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Iconic Landmarks
May 2020

A Magical Evening with the Académie Equestre de Versailles

As the evening arrives at the royal stables in Versailles, riders and horses of the Académie Equestre de Versailles prepare to dance.

Photo credit:

Appawoosa

Every Saturday and Sunday, the Great Stable of Versailles is transformed into an innovative performance center. The performers are not only masterful horseback riders, but also dancers, singers and fencers.

The event opens with a Kyudo, or Japanese-style archery, demonstration. Three women solemnly approach the audience, turn to face a bullseye target, and perform a masterfully choreographed series of movements before firing their arrows at the target. Last Saturday, all three arrows hit their mark.

After the Kyudo opening, a series of acts, lasting about 70 minutes, weaves various styles of dance and horseback riding. The show, “la Voie de l'écuyer,” or “The Way of the Squire,” is staged and choreographed by Bartabas, the celebrated French equestrian choreographer. Known as a pioneer of the form, Bartabas creates equestrian art, music, dance, and theater.

The enclosed stable area is decorated with wooden paneling and floor-to-ceiling mirrors which reflect the horses’ movements and the globes of delicate hanging light fixtures.

For this Journey, participants will be seated near the front of the venue for the best view. The proximity allows viewers to see the brilliant blue eyes of the white Lusitanian horses as well as the intricate choreography by Bartabas.

Afterward, as part of the Secret Journey, visitors will enjoy a champagne toast and an intimate meeting with one of the riders at Academie Equestre.

The Royal Stables of Versailles, constructed under the reign of King Louis XIV, have a rich history.  During the Ancien Régime, horses were essential to the kingdom’s operations, military and otherwise, and horsemanship underlined the strength of France’s royalty. In the 18th century, more than 2,000 horses were kept in the Royal Stables. Today, the stables hold the National School of Architecture of Versailles, the Equestrian Academy of Versailles, and a branch of the Center for research and restoration of France.

Before the performance, visitors enjoy a private tour of the stables and grounds, where they will get a closer look at the famous performance horses with an expert guide to show how the evening’s spectacle links to France’s royal past.

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